Am I Responsible Enough To Have A Dog?

I want a dog. I want a man’s best friend to take on long walks in the park, to snuggle with in bed, and lay around the house with. I grew up having them around and am absolutely obsessed. I can’t even bother with cats because they’re such divas. If I wanted to have something that ignored me, I would just give birth to a teenager.

I’m that idiot dude who has to stop every time he sees a cute canine walking down the street and make those silly pet voices, “Oh my god, my precious darling sauce! Look at that little sunflower doggie!” Their owners see me barreling towards them and run for the hills, yanking their dog by the chain. I don’t blame them. I can get a little overzealous. But I can’t help it! I just love them so much! I want one of my own! But am I responsible enough to have one? I’m not sure.

In college, I only knew one person who owned a dog and she was this I-N-S-A-N-E rich girl who had NO business having one. She lived alone in a two bedroom apartment in the West Village and made the second bedroom her dog’s playpen. Even though the apartment was chic, it always reeked of piss and dog shit because she was too lazy to ever walk it. She would just lay down wee-wee pads and hope for the best! During the day she would take it to Doggie Day Care (even though she only had school for little chunks of time) and sometimes leave it there overnight if she didn’t feel like picking it up. Depressed and neglected, the dog eventually tried to kill itself by overdosing on the girl’s Xanax. Miraculously, it survived, which I’m sure the dog was pissed about, and the girl told everyone at school about it the next day.

“My dog like OD’d on my Xanax last night,” she said in this crazy deadpan Valley Girl voice that was incapable of registering any emotion other than indifference. “It’s really sad. Rushed her to St. Vincent’s and she’s okay but like…so traumatizing.”

The whole situation disgusted me. After seeing how irresponsible of a dog owner she was, I vowed to never get a dog until I knew for certain that I wouldn’t kill it. I spent most of my college years too hungover to move my body, let alone take a dog out for a walk. Since I’ve graduated, my life has considerably mellowed out but I’m still unsure if I should get one. My apartment is tiny, I travel a bunch, and I like to have the freedom of doing whatever I want, when I want. Having a dog would definitely change that.

My roommate also wants a dog, which makes it even more tempting to adopt one. Sometimes, when we get drunk, we’ll be like “Oh my god, we’re getting a dog. No, I’m serious. We need one. We’ll make it work. Team effort. We’re getting one tomorrow!” And then the next day, when we’re rolling out of bed at noon and dreaming of pad thai, we’ll laugh about how ridiculous we were. “Clearly we’re not fit enough to be pet owners.”

I want to be responsible enough to care for a living thing. I want to have something that depends on me but I also don’t want to spend a ton of money and invest in a life for selfish reasons. Sometimes I think having a dog will force me to make the final transition to being a grown up but that seems silly and unfair. It’s like those teen mothers who have children just so they can have somebody to love and that loves them. Good luck with that!

Someday I will adopt a little pug guy and we will live happily ever after. I’ll get married to some dreamboat and we’ll all live together in some impossibly chic brownstone. We’ll take the dog for four hour walks just so people can be totally jealous of our lives. “Look at that well-adjusted gay couple with a dog! A DOG!” And we’ll let out a smug laugh and keep walking. We”ll keep doing this until everyone in the neighborhood knows just how stable we are. And then when we get home, we’ll do the family Christmas cards and take photos of us holding the dog in ugly sweaters! And then I’ll just kill myself. TC mark

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.


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  • kkbye

    HAHA. omg. This article is great.

  • Clarence Johnson

    ” Sometimes I think having a dog will force me to make the final transition to being a grown up but that seems silly and unfair.”

    It will. And this is not all bad. Both I and my dog survived this process.

    • totallyRAD

      word to this. everytime i wake up hungover and thinking i’m a total piece of shit i look at my girl with her puppy eyes, sack up to take her out, and remind myself that we are mutually codependent. (i also have family that lives in the city — support system is key)

  • Anonymous


  • Mike T.

    “I want to be responsible enough to care for a living thing. I want to have something that depends on me but I also don’t want to spend a ton of money and invest in a life for selfish reasons. ”

    hence: goldfish.

  • Summer

    My dog often validates my existence.  And I’m okay with that.

  • misskimball

    my sister is responsible enough to have a dog but I’m not even though I’m older

  • Guest

    but how are you going to obsessively update your twitter/fb and churn out an endless cycle of seemingly meaningless articles when you have a canine cutie to care for?

    • KC


  • Megan Harvey

    Two things.
    One: Ryan, thank you for being the ray of sunshine in my otherwise boring day of pretending to work (while obviously reading Thought Catalog). You’re completely amazing.
    Two: Don’t get a dog. It completely impends on your abilty to be totally selfish with your time/money/personal objects that otherwise have no business being in your living room when guests come over.

  • Mickey

    that last sentence just floored me. (in a good way) I COULD NOT STOP LAUGHING. (accidental capslock is freud)

  • Allie

    ” I can’t even bother with cats because they’re such divas. If I wanted to have something that ignored me, I would just give birth to a teenager.” thank you. cats suck


    I didn’t even need to read the article to know the answer:


    • padface

      But who doesn’t love pad thai?

  • padface

    I seriously turn into a brain damage victim every time I find myself near a dog. I mean my boyfriend looks at me like I’ve totally unhinged and am floating into space to unleash phase 3 of my master plan to turn the entire human race into corgis.

    The other day on the bus this woman in front had a puppy and it went under her seat to come sniff me and I swear to God not one person on that bus left with the impression I was psychologically sound.

  • Jacqueline

    Ryan. i share your dream of adopting a pug and marrying a dream boat. I also unfortunately share an apartment with two roomies and their two cats… diva is an understatement. We live in a complex full of dogs. Why couldn’t my roomies have dogs? Sigh. At least it gives me a chance to get on my knees and pet/babytalk the shit out of dogs for my thirty second elevator ride home from work every day!

    Keep it up, love your writing. You have a following in LA and the Bay Area.

  • Erika

    Oh Ryan. I’ve been reading your articles for months now and although I’m a huge fan, have never felt so compelled to comment on any of them as I have with this one. 

    I got a puppy about a year ago. And not just a trendy little Toronto-chic purse pooch. I got a German Shepherd/King Shepherd puppy. Let me tell you, as rewarding of an experience as it is to have a dog, nothing is sacred anymore. Usually when my friends suggest they’d like to get a dog, I ask, “Do you have a lot of time/energy/money? And can you see yourself leaving parties or bars, and instead of hitting up the afterhours, going home and taking the dog out for a sufficient amount of time to do their business NO MATTER HOW DRUNK YOU ARE?” 

    Admittedly, it can be stressful as hell at times. His teething pains could only be satiated by destroying every single pair of heels I owned, and all of the wood furniture in my apartment. He unexpectedly developed a food allergy, so on top of vet expenses, I have to fork out more for food on him per month than I spend on myself. Don’t take this as discouraging, by no means is that what I intend to do. All I’m saying is that, for the sake of your sanity and your future dog’s wellbeing, think this through! Your handsome little, sweater-wearing pug will thank you for it.

    • Boat

       what is “Toronto-chic”?

  • Sophie H

    If you do, prepare to become that annoy person who constantly says ‘wanna see a pic of my puppy!?’ while forcing someone to look at my phone! I AM THAT GIRL! I just cant stop myself! My dog too, has tried to commit suicide a few times, the little bitch just looooves to eat things she shouldnt! Can’t watch her closely enough. But furry children are more fun than actual children, i say go for it! And show us pics!!!x

  • Amrita Tapadia

    To answer your question Ryan, Nope. Don’t get a dog. Your reasoning  shows you are not ready to own one (And you know that too). You see, you have to travel, make a lot more money, and honestly, continue to stay irresponsible for a little while more. You are just 25… Keep this option open for your 30s… I know, I will :) 

  • Kaitlynclement

    haha my best friend is the modern insane rich girl that has no business owning a dog. he’s a bijon poo (of course) and it’s now been living at my house for three days. 

  • Chakacoaster

    drunk walking the dog is hilarious. you get used to it. It’s better than spending the first few hours of your hangover cleaning up dog pee.

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